television documentary director

About Gavin Searle

After studying Visual Anthropology at the University of Manchester in the early 90s, I have spent the last two decades making documentaries for British television, directing and shooting 90% of my films.

I have made several episodes for the Tribe series, a ‘reverse anthropology’ series, Meet the Natives, about a group of Pacific islanders travelling across the UK and a feature about the Japanese relationship to fish.

My films have taken me into many different communities across the world, from the Buddhist Layap high up in the Bhutanese Himalayas to the Penan, hunter gatherers whose forest in Sarawak is threatened by loggers; from Eveni reindeer herders in the wilderness of Siberia to the resourceful migrants who make a living in the slums of Lagos. 

In Peru and Brazil, I explored how poverty is the driving force behind rainforest destruction and how, even in the remote forests of West Papua, the cash economy is now rapidly transforming the lives of the Korowai people.

En route I have survived a plane crash in the Brazilian Amazon and roamed the deserts of Saddam's Iraq. I have filmed a wannabe shaman losing his mind on ayahuasca in the Peruvian rainforest and an Englishman dressed in a panda suit flying over Japan whilst strapped to a microlight. 

I have won many major UK awards, including from BAFTA, the Royal Television Society, Broadcast and the Televisual Awards and am an Honorary Lecturer at Manchester University.

For more information on my work, please see